One of the most interesting things about grief or loss (of any kind) is how quickly we lose ourselves. How quickly we forget who we were BEFORE the change…before the loss…before the moment that forever changes our course. And then you have to walk through the passage where you ask yourself if you ever really truly knew who you were BEFORE the change…before the loss…before the moment. I saw this statement and had to re-read it multiple times then and even now, I continue to have to re-read it because it represents so many things for me.
As a society we have done a lot of work, a tremendous amount actually, to negate the importance or validity of any form of mental illness. From the smallest amount of “normal” depression, to clinically severe diagnoses, we have minimized it, made people feel less than because of it, made them feel like it is literally “all in their head,” that they do not have what it takes to “deal” with it and that it is not a legitimate illness and you should just throw pills at it. I will never forget the people who said these things about my Mom. To her face, to my face. I will never forget the Dr’s who did just that, threw pills at it. I had one Dr. tell me that in order to treat her anxiety, he would have to sedate her. She spent her entire life living in this space. This space of constant excavation because of what she was told and who said it to her. This place that was really incredibly uncomfortable and the only way she could really deal with it was to be empathetic to others in all the ways that she could think of while all along the way she was wishing, praying, someone would return that favor. She spent a lot of time digging and shoveling piles and piles and years worth of dirt trying to find herself. She was exhausted.
This sentiment struck a chord with me because it is literally the first place I went after the shock wore off. Who am I now? What will become of me? Who was I before she left? One of my favorite authors says that to figure this question out you have to go to the place of immense pain, the place that makes you the most uncomfortable and it will be there that you find this answer. That place for me is how we treat mental illness. Stress, depression, sadness, anxiety, the list goes on. I am disgusted with how we treat this and anyone suffering from it. I am in a pretty big depression myself at the moment. And the world would say, that’s understandable, you lost your mother. But the world is also dishing out some pretty depressing stuff this year OUTSIDE of that loss, so whatever tools I had in my arsenal to deal with and process it are gone out the window. It is unchartered territory out there right now. We have to do better. We have to walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins before we can possibly think we have any right to pass judgement.
I hope wherever she is, the excavation is over. For me…I am beginning the unlearning.